[Original post] Last week I dined at a French restaurant in Taipei called Restaurant Ephernite. We were impressed. In fact it blends the positive elements of both Raw and Mume, and is a place we want to return to and will return to more than the other two. Its a place for any type of occasion. (Scroll to the bottom for another French Restaurant recommendation for those romantic dates or special occasion dinners!)
It only opened in January and the owners say they are still in their trial phase. Located in the Daan neighborhood, this small establishment has a comfortable, modern interior with around 20 seats in the main dining room and a private room that can seat up to 10 I believe. It has mostly black walls with ironed white table cloths and the rustic tungsten lightbulbs that are ever so popular these days.
The owners are both extremely friendly. Claude, is a Taiwanese-French man who was born and raised in France. His fiancee, the talented and passionate chef, Vanessa, was born and raised in Taiwan but was trained and learned her culinary arts in France and Europe. Both Claude and Vanessa returned to Taiwan to open their own restaurant and Claude really wanted to bring the simple, relaxed yet high quality neighborhood French restaurant feel to Taiwan. He said he didnt want to create anything pretentious and that Ephernite only has one seating per night so that guests can enjoy their food and stay and chat over dessert and coffee at their own pace and for as long as they like, just like they do in France. I believe he achieved his vision and goal, we felt relaxed and enjoyed our meal. The staff were not pretentious at all and Claude and Vanessa were both very attentive and caring towards each table. Vanessa is very friendly and personally came out to introduce a few of her dishes. She wore a smile and you could tell she puts her heart and soul into her cooking and her dainty yet refined fingers is testament to the craftsmanship of her every dish.
The menu focuses on using local Taiwanese produce to create French food, with some dishes having the occasional Taiwanese flare to it. But this is real French stuff, not some fusioned up French food to appeal to the Taiwanese palate. The menu changes almost on a daily basis depending on the ingredients. Often the main ingredient remains the same but the accompanying sauces and vegetables may change or the way in which Vanessa cooks the main ingredients might change. She made a point to say that should we return, and we all want to return, we can tell her when we went and she will guarantee we wont eat a repeated dish! The food we had on this night was consistently good from start to finish. Though the fish was slightly overcooked and hard and though there wasnt anything that blew our minds, we left very satisfied. Plus at NTD$1800 (USD$58) per person for a 7 course meal of such quality, who can really complain.
Amuse Bouche: Foie Gras Macaroon (so good) and Orange Blossom Thin Sugar Cookie (my own translation of the chinese)
First Course: Wild Taiwanese Cucumber Salad, Ginger Soy, Fennel Flower
Second Course: Pumpkin Soup
Third Course: Etelis Red Snapper with Sea Urchin Sauce and Cilantro Seafood Sauce
Fourth Course: Duck Breast from France, Korean Sesame Leaf and Garlic Potato Puree
Green Apple Sherbert
Dessert: Ispahan Lychee Ice Cream, Raspberry Cream, Rose Sugar
Small Bite Desserts: Chamomile Turkish Delight, Logan Honey Madeline.
They also have a very nice selection of French wines. We had a bottle of 2012 Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Pinot Noir, which was not bad for a Pinot Noir, but in general I dont like Pinots.
Dinners only, set menu only, one seating per night.
http://www.ephernite.com (you can make online reservations!)
No 233, Sec 2, Anhe Road, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan
[Updated November, 2015] I recently returned to Ephernite for yet another wonderful and spot-on dinner. The meal consisted of the same format and basic design, with new ingredients of the season and new cooking methods. In fact, this second time was overall better than our first meal here. For the affordability, sophisticated yet un-pretentious atmosphere, excellent food and service, and friendly and soulful owners, this is quickly becoming my favorite Western/ haute-cuisine restaurant in Taipei. Our meal was paired with a good bottle of Les Grandes Vignes Cotes du Rhone.
The ever humble and friendly Claude and Vanessa found out I was the writer of this review that has apparently garnered enough readers that many English speaking visitors to Taiwan have visited Ephernite because of my post, which I was quite surprised and humbled by. I am quite grateful to the readers of my blog and posts and for actually trusting my opinions! I was there for my Birthday dinner, and upon finding out it was my birthday and who was behind this blog post, Claude brought over a bottle of Pineau des Charentes from his personal collection, a wine made from cognac grapes, aged in cognac barrels and containing a small percentage of cognac. The wine was out of this world.
While we are talking about French Food, my favorite pick for fancy/ romantic/ special occasion French dining is the Paris 1930 Restaurant in the Ritz Landis Hotel Taipei. Every time I have been, the food has been spot on. And while I stated previously that Mume had the best steak I have had in town, Paris 1930 has always had top notch steak and I think I take back what I said about Mume because I just had some amazing steak at the Rtiz Landis. Check it out.
Seared U.S. Ribeye with Miso Sauce and Red Wine Reduction, Soy Beans and Fried Bean Curd
Dinners daily, Lunch weekends only.